There has been a lot of talk about “unity” in the Church and how it is necessary to protect this unity. No doubt, unity is a central and necessary quality of the Church. Jesus put a high emphasis on it (Cf. John 17:21-23). But unity is not the supreme good. The truth is the supreme good. Unity for the sake of unity is pointless and can actually lead churches and Christian communities into virtual whole-scale apostasy.
Unity is in service of the truth, not the other way around. Many Catholic laity and bishops today seem push aside the truth to preserve unity. The recent abortion scandal concerning Kennedy’s funeral is a case in point. The bishop, some Catholics argue, is supposed to be a source of unity in the diocese. So, Cardinal O’Malley simply had to go through with it. Unity, you see, at all costs.
In fact, that’s one of the reasons why Bishop Joseph Martino was squeezed out of his diocese in Scranton, Pennsylvania:
Notice: Those two explanations are not mutually exclusive. During his tenure in Scranton, Bishop Martino made a series of unpopular moves: closing schools and parishes, busting a teachers’ union, denouncing pro-choice politicians, demanding assurances that Catholic universities were providing an authentically Catholic formation for their students. Many loyal Catholics would agree that some (if not all) of these moves were necessary, desirable, even praiseworthy. But were they done with appropriate tact and consideration for the good of the faithful?
Bishop Martino did make many enemies. He did show a lack of delicacy. He did alienate people who might otherwise have approved of his overall drive to ensure Catholic orthodoxy. Even among Catholics who supported his overall policies, there were many who were dismayed by his administrative approach.
Moreover, Bishop Martino did nothing to ensure the support of his brother bishops. On the contrary, he pointedly insisted that only he– not the US bishops’ conference– had authority within the Scranton diocese. In making that statement he was entirely correct, but he was not at all prudent.
By the time his departure was announced, Bishop Martino had accumulated complaints from many different sources. There were (and are) dozens of canonical cases pending before the Roman Curia, involving real or alleged abuses of authority in the Scranton diocese. The bishop had become a problem. He acknowledged as much himself, in his final press conference, saying: “For some time now there has not been a clear consensus among the clergy and people of the diocese of Scranton regarding my pastoral initiatives or my way of governance.” A bishop should be the focus of unity within a diocese; Bishop Martino had become a source of division. (Source)
But where is this unity heading when it seeks to keep together light and darkness? The bible is clear about light and darkness. They cannot exist together (Cf. John 12:46). Neither can pro-life and pro-abortion. One cannot simultaneously proclaim both positions. Proclamation is not simply in word but in deed as well. Cardinal O’Malley wanted it both ways. He wants to talk the pro-life talk, but his actions and witness said something quite different. His involvement in the public celebration of Edward Kennedy’s legacy tells us we can have it both ways. We can be a good Catholic, working for “social justice” causes even though our public position on abortion is a heinous sin and our personal lives are a grave scandal. As long as we’re politicians with power and influence, and as long as the cause is politically correct, then Catholic bishops will spare no expense in extolling our minor virtues even if it exposes our unrepentant sin.
If you have any doubt about this, let me draw your attention to the whole broohaha concerning Archbishop Richard Williamson, the SSPX bishop who caused a world-wide furor some months ago because of his anti-semitic comments. The controversy went on for several weeks, thanks to an accommodating media and the “outrage” of many bishops who opposed Benedict’s move to lift the excommunications against the SSPX bishops. (The lifting of the excommunications had nothing to do with Williamson’s holocaust-denying comments, of course, but that need not concern the media or their dumbed down audience.).
If we compare these scenarios, it is very easy to see where the bishops’ priorities are today. The holocaust is an historical question. One may have an opinion on how many Jews were terminated. It is an academic question and does not concern the Catholic faith or morality, per se, unless of course it is accompanied by truly anti-semitic beliefs. But abortion is not an historical question alone. It is an intrinsic moral question. Its commission is condemned in the strongest possible way by the Church’s tradition. It always has been. It always will be.
And yet, even if we were to treat the Jewish holocaust and the Abortion holocaust as morally equivalent (which they are not on the basis of duration and number of deaths i.e. 4 years vs. 40 years / 6 million vs. hundreds of millions if not billions), how can we explain the opposite reactions of the bishops to Kennedy and Williamson?
Does anyone really believe there would be a public funeral for an anti-semite, regardless of his other public service accomplishments? I highly doubt it. (Unless of course such a person were to champion rationed public health care!)
Why is that?
Because it’s not politically palatable. That’s why AND FOR NO OTHER REASON. Abortion-pushing politicians like Ted Kennedy (and he was one of the best, if not THE best pusher) are tolerated and even extolled in the Church, but anti-semitic bishops are not. They are silenced and forced to apologize – not for a moral or doctrinal error but for an historical opinion.
The sad reality today is that the Catholic hierarchy is, like the culture surrounding it, one very sick society in need of major renewal and reform and repentance. It has become, like her children, nearly indistinguishable from the people it is supposed to be evangelizing.